Monday, February 1, 2010

A Quick Rant

That's like the third tweet, blog, post in a row today where the first screenwriting "rule" listed is formatting (and grammar) with in depth discussion about font sizes and brads and coloured script covers or not.

Are you all out of your ****ing minds?!

How about, "is my idea strong enough for a movie?" How about, "who is my main character and what is his/her story and how do I best tell it?" How about, "what am I trying to say that might actually engage an audience of paying strangers for two hours?"

Tab indentations and thickness of card stock? Yeah, that's really what I need to be thinking about.

"Hey, I have this GREAT idea for a feature script with this utterly compelling, flawed character who goes on this cool arc by doing [x], [y], and [z] which is like really difficult because of this wicked nemesis and ... what? Oh! Yes, I was going to use a Blue cover ... and Courier 12 point font ... yep, absolutely, I'm measuring the brad lengths now ... pardon? What's my story? ****! I've forgotten ..."

Don't EVER tell me the first rule of screenwriting is ****ing formatting. That's the EASY part. If in doubt go buy Final Draft (shameless plug in the vain hope of free upgrades). Try concentrating on what your damn story is and who your characters are and why anyone should care. THAT is the hard part.

ps apologies if the font, colour, or general composition of this blog post does not meet legislated regulatory standards ...


  1. And if you can't afford Final Draft, get Celtx. It is both free and awesome. Bingo, all your formatting problems solved. Now for the hard part, STORY.

  2. You're right, it definitely isn't the first law of screenwriting and it should not be the first thing you think about, nor the thirty second thing you think about. Story and characters should always be in the forefront of the writers mind.

    That said, I do think that correct formatting should always be used, and while it shouldn't be the priority, it should always be done before submitting the script anywhere. Maybe it should be considered the last 'rule.'

    Or, as you say, everyone should just get Final Draft. Because it's wonderful and makes life eight hundred times easier.

  3. Yes, FD is terrific, Ceinwen. That's why I've never understood the over-stated emphasis on formatting. As you pointed out, it should be a rule but way down the list.

    I have a friend who is a talented writer but after doing a screenwriting course was so tied up in knots about formatting he didn't pursue it. Craziness.

    Thanks Evangeline. I've never heard of Celtx having been a FD convert since version 4! Again, if in doubt, get the free software or, if you're serious about being a writer, use what the professionals do.

    What I do need to remember is to do a spelling pass before submitting a script to US competitions. It will traumatise me to embrace the Z and kill the U but so be it ...